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Owner, Property Manager, or Traveler
One Realtor in my complex only.....had 1VRBO ad and 58 condos in the complex of 216 condos at one time. They milked that ad with no calendar. Of course they had around 50 complexes they were doing the same way......most of them they had 10 or so condos they were renting in each complex. They also had many more ways of advertising but they were and are using VRBO against the "O". I don't care what HomeAway does and I have an ad with VacationRentals.com......but VRBO should be by OWNER ONLY. See my Reply that gives a link to the statement from the guy that started VRBO. I got nothing from HomeAway that said they were going to run the company differently. He clearly had the mission of developing a BY OWNER WEBSITE!
I agree GoneFishin did outline, quite concisely, the problem with HA and VRBothers. What is the solution?!?!? I have encouraged as much as I can to get the post owners to participate in the linked-in group. It is great to have the discussion and we can all commiserate, but we all must take a little effort to go forward with pursuing change. If no one feels comfortable with the linked-in group then what will we all participate in........bbb complaints, angies list complaints, buyer be ware lists, craigs list ads, negative google reviews? We can all talk about it, but if we don't move then we are having a moot conversation, might as well be about the weather. HA and VRBothers are blatantly in conflict with their mission statement and obviously don't care that they have violated that. The same as all the property managers I have ever encountered. They have a vision and they won't get more than 100 properties on their program, but the smell of blood and the fat cash changes them all. This is why I have professionally left several companies. I, at least, have to be able to lay my head on a pillow at night and sleep restfully, the owners of the companies do not share my ethics.
Everyone could dispute the charges for their listings on their credit cards or debit cards and have a hostile and costly yet ineffective resolution. If the powers that be are reading this, I wish others would be more vocal and participate in a group outside of this forum. I feel as if I am wasting my elevated blood pressure on fruitless typing. Are we all simple minded animals that just walk with the herd discussing as we go and then into the sinking mud we still discuss???
Another thing to do is to tell VRBO and Homeaway how you feel. I started this thread by including wording to send to Homeaway (and which can be easily modified for VRBO) requesting owner icons or screens. It is easy to go back and cut and paste. Most visitors to these sites want to deal with owners, not realtors so this would enable them to do that and make our jobs easier. Rather than complain amongst ourselevs, do take the time to voice your suggestions to VRBO and Homeaway. If enough people do this, perhaps change will occur.
Anyone that rents a place through VRBO should OWN IT and they should have to keep up with a public calendar. They should also have to prove proof of ownership of any place advertised. Either in name or through a corporation the are an officer of or shareholder of. Tax departments can do the proof of ownership in each county of each state in the US. You own it, you can buy the ad on VRBO to advertise it. You must have an active calendar for each ad however. Realtors using 1 ad to help rent 50 vacation properties is not "by owner".
Go to the HomeAway Support pages.....Q&A.....
"Q: What is VRBO.com?"
"A: Founded nearly two decades ago, Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO.com) pioneered the online advertising of for-rent-by-owner properties and continues to be one of the most-visited sites in the Industry. HomeAway aquired VRBO in November 2006 and continues to run the site as an independent brand. The site features more than 150,000 global property listings."
I was a member before HomeAway bought it and I was a member at VacationRentals.com before HomeAway bought it. Both instantly became the companies trump cards. I'd guess that the HomeAway site has passed VacationRentals.com now? The other 3 or 4 HA owns sure has not. It was 2 great buys by the company....if you can't beat 'em, buy 'em.
The above Q&A flys in the face of all Owners advertising their rentals on VRBO. Law suits if what HomeAway needs to take action. The only other thing that could happen to effect their thinking is for someone to start a REAL .....VRBO where proven ownership is a must and keeping up with the calendar for each property is a must. To have 135,000 OWNERS do a flip from one company to another just ain't happening however....yeah, I'm saying 15,000 or more ads are by Realtors and they're using those 15,000 ads to advertise 200,000 properties. Realtors own VR property too! The trick is advertising one place and using that ad to fill the rental books of 10-75 other rental properties in the same complex. By having no calendar....it's a breeze. They can just say.....the one in the pictures is booked but I have the exact same floorplan in that same building and this one has even better furniture.
VRBO - Vacation Rentals By OWNER
What you say is perfect. Now let's figure out a way to implement it. I did not go on the linkenden site. I don't like putting my information "out there" so maybe there is another group we can make for those who aren't particularly happy with joining facebook or the other group sites like that. Any ideas?
You are a critical thinker and you need to continue to be a major player here. You are a born leader!
Let me know how I can help in this fight. I must say I'm feeling duped by VRBO.
One way to fight back is to seek change. See my original post with wording to send to Homeaway or VRBO requesting icon and/screens to show owner vs. realtor managed properties. In my opinion, that is the best way. I think that starting a competing webiste for owners only is a long process and takes more time than i have (but I admire those who can!). Plus VRBO and Homeaway have invested millions in getting their names out there, something very hard to reproduce. Send in your suggestion and follow up. the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
I just edited my property description and stated that I am proud NOT to be a management company. And that we treat our guests as GUESTS, not just a customer.
We'll see what happens.
That is an excellent idea! I just did the same. It is easier on VRBO than Homeaway as there is more space but I managed. Here is what I put for any other owners to use if they wish:
WHEN YOU CONTACT ME, YOU ARE WORKING WITH AN OWNER - NOT THE BUSINESS OFFICE OF A REALTOR! I take a genuine personal interest in providing you with the best possible vacation experience. You are not 'just a number' when you rent from an owner like me!
The best and easiest option is to simply stop using HomeAway and go somewhere else.
Owners get caught up in the VRBO/HomeAway network, thinking they have no other choice because their properties won't get found any other way. That's false. There are a number of great other sites that have have cheap prices and appear high on SERPs.
The best site, when it comes to value-per-inquiry, is VacationHomeRentals.com. They were a small site a few years back but continued to maintain value and build features that owners wanted. They also worked on their SEO.
Now, they're the best listing site on the web, bar none. I've listed my properties on 10-12 different websites over the years and I carefully watch my inquiries and bookings. No one beats VHR.
They rank very high on SERPs and send me about twice as many inquiries as either VRBO or HomeAway.
Another good site, that's just coming along, is FlipKey. The advantage there is that they cross-publish all their listings on TripAdvisor which is far-and-away the largest travel site on the internet. I've found that if I collect reviews from guests, my listings remain at the top of the list and I get a lot of inquiries.
Also look for local regional listing websites in your area. Search engines increase page rank for local listings so big sites like VRBO and HomeAway tend not to jump right to the top of a SERP just because they're bigger.
All of these websites integrate with my booking software as well, which is great because I don't have to update multiple calendars by hand. It isn't possible to update HomeAwayConnect calendar by using third party software so you always have to do that manually.
Several of my properties no longer are on any of HomeAway's websites at all, and they're doing great.
Vote with your feet. If you dislike VRBO's ever-increasing prices or the fact that HomeAway doesn't filter out management companies better, go elsewhere. It's a big internet.
I agree it is a BIG Internet. But you are very wrong about Flipkey and Tripadvisor!!! They are so identical to VRBO and Homeaway.......and please do not tout your own software and opportunistic solutions. We are home owners disgusted with the system who are looking for an alternative. I didn't just use my hard earned money to build and put my heart and soul into a property that I will be at the mercy of someone who feels that they are a big player and can compete in the big market of the Internet and have me against a wall. I just want some integrity and true business ethics. That's all, not too much to ask.......I really hope not anyway! You say go elsewhere.......where! Who is a person with millions and I do mean millions, that can support this effort? Cragis list is okay, but you have a different level of renters, they will trash your home and not think twice. Ebay is all about the lowest price and once again you are looking at renters who have no regard for your home. Any other suggestions, everyone else is small potatoes, so then we are forced to look at management companies. Viscious cycle and no good answers!!!!! Why the heck would anyone even consider a second home that is attempting to earn it's keep??? Run, don't walk, RUN!!!!!
The difference between VRBO and most others is.....Vacation Rentals By Owner!
Good thought, that is what I have done as well!!!
Are you not seeing the problem with your statement???!!!???!! IT IS NOT BY OWNERS! IT IS BY OTHERS!!!!!! Property managers have abused the niche for sole owners. Who then is for the sole owner? Gonefishin, I know your property, as it is well published. You are obviously a property manager. Please refrain from contributing to this thread and discontinue any self promotion. Much appreciated.